Waiting for Cody
Canyons of Escalante RV Park
Good Morning Viet Nam, errr Escalante. Overnight low temp was 40 F,. Today will be a warm day. We’re up, coffee has been made, CNN is on in the background. I called High Adventure Tours to say “We’re Going. Yes, that’s us. We’re at the RV Park by the Circle-D”. Pickup time was 8:15. Time to pack.
Sunrise with temperature at 47 F. Seven liters of water packed. I think this is too much water for this time of year. I suppose if a party gets lost, carrying “too much water” could be a life saver. Ellen has 3 liters in her platypus I’ll carry four, three liters of electrolytes and a liter of water. For a day pack, my pack is pretty heavy.
Cody in Control
Off to the Canyons, Cody said “Have Fun”!
That Slot Center Right? That’s Peekaboo.
Wide Open Terrain!
“A green jeep will pick you up.” Cody arrived in a short dark blue jeep. Ellen crawled in the back with our packs. I struck up a conversation with Cody as he drove off. We went to High Adventure to finalize paperwork then we were off. Just before we took off, Cody suggested we download Hiking Project and load the Utah map. The drive to hole in the wall road is fast and smooth on a paved road. Hole in the wall road is dirt, pebble, and rock. Cody drove the road at 40. He knew the road well. He’s off for the season in two days. He lives in St. George and is going home. His birthday is in two days,, the 25th. My birthday was on the 3rd. We talked about the geology, traveling, and Italy. He and his two brothers went to the Amalfi Coast and loved it. They’ve been to Rome and Florence on a different trip. We talked about Banff and Glacier National Park. Cody is well traveled
We bounced along Hole in the Wall for about 45 minutes. Cody slowed and said, “This is as far as most people bring their cars.” Ahead was a slick rock formation that the jeep handled easily. The trail head was about another hundred yards more.
Cody, at the trail head “You can see the entrance to Peekaboo. You see the valley that goes to the left past the near rise? Just to the right you’ll see the entrance.. Once you hit the bottom, the trail runs into a dry riverbed. Don’t go left and don’t go immediately right. Go diagonally across the wash and you’ll run right into Peekaboo. Once you’re through Peekaboo, fallow the cairns to the right. If you loose the cairns, back track until you pick them up. In spooky you’ll come upon a pile of boulders. There’s a 12 foot drop there. People do climb down, but there’s a easy way. When you see the boulders, behind you you’ll see a hole. Go down that hole and you’ll find another smaller hole that will lead you down. Have Fun! I’ll meet you here at 1:30.” We headed down the trail at 9:30.
Our First Slot Canyon Ever!
The Climb into Peekaboo
The Family on the Way Up.
Amazing, Simply Amazing.
Here and Gone, Moving Fast.
Peekaboo Does Not Disappoint!
Peekaboo Slot Canyon
People miss Peekaboo. Often they take the wrong path. Sometimes they walk right by the entrance.
The trail from the plateau to the valley floor is steep. Switchbacks run through sand and over slick rock. We found it easier to take the slick rock and cut the switchbacks now and then. We started out very tentatively, not trusting our boots and not feeling comfortable traversing a slope. As we hiked we heard voices behind. I love quiet while hiking. It’s fun to listen for novel sounds. I was not happy having people so close. Near the bottom a family of four with a dog passed us headed on. At the wash, they went left which took them up the canyon. We followed Cody’s directions and found the slot canyon, Peekaboo. The family backtracked to follow us.
There is a climb to get into Peekaboo. The first eight feet are easy. The next eight feet were difficult for us. We made it up the easy part as the family watched from below. I prefer to have Ellen lead. If she is uncomfortable with a route, I’ll help or lead, but I think she develops confidence picking her own path. Ellen was having trouble getting up the second pitch at Peekaboo. It wouldn’t help if I went ahead, she’d still have to make that climb. The husband below said, “I have webbing. I could go ahead and help you up.” “Sure”, we said. He wore climbing shoes and easily bounded up the pitch. At the top he lowered a strap that Ellen used to pull herself around a corner and up. I used the web too. Then we watched as his wife climbed the pitch carrying their whippet. Then there two young children bounded up the pitch. The kids were like spiders on a wall; amazing. What did I say about solitude? I was very grateful to this family for their help.
Mark said he had two straps. We could borrow one if we get it back to his van when we’re done. OK. I put the strap in my backpack.
The little I read about Peekaboo mentioned the climb at the entrance as difficult, but nothing else. The walk through the rest of the slot canyon is easy, right? No. In many places the footing was so narrow my boot was wedged between the two walls. Sometimes I’d have my boot wedged while trying to work my way around a sharp narrow opening that dropped down three or four feet. Getting through Peekaboo was challenging and big fun. It’s a long slot canyon that opens out as if it’s over then closes down again and continues. Often we could see sunlight above just as often we couldn’t. Ellen led the way through the entirety of Peekaboo. I’m very proud of her. She was having a ton of fun. Often we couldn’t fit through a section with our packs. Ellen would go ahead and I’d pass the packs to her. Sometimes she carried both packs! Peekaboo is incredibly dramatic; it is beautiful and challenging.
We started hiking with three layers; the last being a light weight down jacket. In Peekaboo, we packed the down away. It was comfortable hiking weather.
The Entrance to Spooky
Spooky Slot Canyon
People sometimes miss spooky. How, I don’t know.
Exiting Peekaboo we followed cairns to the right. We were both a bit down. Peekaboo had ended for us. The trail toward spooky is so well marked with cairns, it’s nearly impossible not to find the entrance It is a bit of a hike, the two canyons are not side by side. Stranger still, the last few hundred feet of trail goes down hill. I checked Hiking Project’s map and found our “blue dot” (the you are here marker) nearly at the entrance to Spooky.
Spooky’s entrance gives nothing away about what’s coming. Spooky narrows then narrows again. We found ourselves walking sideways through S bends so narrow at times that I had to exhale to get past. There was no way to wear our packs, we carried them in our hands. Ellen led. Now and then I’d have to pass the packs through to Ellen to get through a narrow. The slot canyon is gorgeous. Before long we came upon a jumble of boulders in a open area. We walked/crawled to the edge of the last boulder and saw a precipice. A sheer drop of twelve perhaps twenty feet. How do we get through?
We looked all around. There was a hold under the last boulder, but the drop looked to be eight or twelve feet; too much. Back at the beginning of the boulder pile, there was no opening. We did see a small hole with a three foot drop to a rock and a sandy floor. Because I didn’t know where that led, I went down the hole first. It was easy to drop in, but I dropped into the dark. With my iPhone flashlight, I saw another hole, big enough to get through. That path led over a small boulder, perhaps four feet in length that dropped into a sandy bottom. I told Ellen, “This is it! Come on down and you can get through the hole down here.” I helped her footing down to me and pointed out the hole. Without missing a beat she was through the hole and down. The packs went next and I followed. I had a bit more trouble getting though the smallish hole. We were down. Thank You Cody!
Getting Through The Holes
Could This Be The Way?
I’m In the 1st Hole looking up at Ellen
Looking Down to the 2nd Hole
Ellen Dropping In to the 1st Hole
Ellen dropping into the 2nd Hole
We Made It, Looking Back
The Boulder Jam was Just the Beginning!
As we worked our way past the boulders, we heard a couple above us. They were clearly having the same misgivings about the drop that we had. We guided them to the easy way down then went on ahead.
I doubt I could get through a narrower canyon. At one point the channel was so narrow I had to crawl. I couldn’t stand. Now and then I found a foot wedged and I couldn’t move forward, I had to back up and free my foot. Ellen had her share of difficulties too. The challenge made getting through that much sweeter. This is the same woman who just last night was concerned about how much water to take, how would I do with my bum shoulder, will it be too difficult, should we go at all, and so on. Once in the canyons, Ellen was excited and enjoyed overcoming hazards.
The couple behind us caught up. We walked together into the sunlight. We were sad once again to burst into the open from the canyon and overjoyed at the experience. The sun was high; the day’s heat was building, off came another layer of clothing.
The path back to Peekaboo went quickly. We had seen seven people on our Hike before returning to Peekaboo. On our way up to the plateau, we encountered a number of small groups , perhaps thirty in all. Some planned to do Peekaboo and Spooky. We described Cody’s “easy” way down in Spooky. At one point Ellen said, “I don’t like getting up early. I’m glad you pushed for an early start. Look at the number of people and the heat now.”
We finished the loop through Peekaboo and Spooky early and took the path to Dry Fork Narrows to cool off. Dry Fork Narrows is an easy walk through impressive red rock walls. It is a great experience too, but not challenging whatsoever. At some point we turned back to be sure we got back in time.
Dry Fork Narrows
Leaving Dry Fork Narrows
It’s Over? Looking back at Peekaboo.
Cody was waiting for us as we crested the plateau at 1:15. “Are we late”, Ellen asked. “No, early” Cody drove as he did coming up, perhaps even faster. We looked for the family’s van at the first and second parking lots. There were cars at both, but no van. Cody said he noticed a van parked a bit ahead on his way in. We pulled up beside the van. “No Way! We were just about to leave”, Mark was so happy that we stopped to return his webbing.
The drive back was fast and uneventful. Two times we trailed another vehicle. The dust storm they kicked up was horrendous. Fine sand filled the air and seeped into our Jeep’s cab. At times the road ahead disappeared. Cody managed to pass both of them on open stretches as we bounced along. “It’s good to have fresh air again!”, I said. “You should see this road on a busy summer day. This was nothing.” Yet another reason to visit on shoulder seasons.
Cody mentioned that Peekaboo and Spooky were named by a group of school children on a Halloween outing. Appropriate names! You would not expect a slot canyon hiding behind that initial wall. As for spooky, getting down and around that boulder jam was damn spooky. We’re closing in on Halloween in a few days.
You might ask which canyon is “better”. There is no “better”, they both are very different and yet the same. Both are fantastic Both present challenges that are easily surmounted. These slot canyons are not for everyone. Moderate strength and endurance is necessary. Anyone who is heavily overweight will not make it through Spooky and probably couldn’t make Peekaboo’s climb.. For everyone else, I strongly recommend taking the “trail” through Peekaboo and Spooky slots. Take the clockwise route and enjoy!
Kodachrome State Park Campground
We bumped into Debbie back at the RV Park. “How did you like it” We gushed about our experience and thanked her for letting us stay well past checkout time. We stowed “everything” and set off around 2:40. Checkout is typically 11 AM.
Before heading off we took cash out at our bank, dropped of a tip for Cody and returned our 911 device, gassed up, and got more ice for our glorified ice box (failed fridge). ; While getting gas, we saw Mark pulling out. He turned around and lowered his window, “Happy Adventuring!”, he said as the family waved. They’re out for two weeks. Perhaps we’ll meet them again.
We had met two Winnebago View owners in Capitol Reef. We bumped into them again at Escalante Petrified Forest campground. They mentioned going to Kodachrome State Park Campground next. Judy, a women we met at Canyons of Escalante RV Park, also mentioned Kodachrome as a great hiking destination. I punched the state park into our GPS and we drove off.
I kept our speed down and enjoyed a relaxing ride to Cannonville and south to Kodachrome. The campground at Kodachrome is first come first served. We arrived late in the day thinking we’d have to drive back to a KOA. We lucked out! Ethan had a few spots open. We merrily drove off to site 29. Yup, the two View couples are here.
The campground sits in a small circular canyon. The view is great, the showers are amazing. I have never seen a campground with fully tiled shows with a rain head and a hand wand. The showers are large with two seating areas. One fellow said, “This is better than the shower I have at home!” Seriously, the showers are amazing.
We are comfortably exhausted. We’ll hit the sack early tonight. Do we hike here or go to Bryce tomorrow. People use this campground as home base for visiting Bryce, a short 30 minute drive away. we’ll play this one by ear.
Bonus, some Video
You’ve made it to the bottom of today’s blog entry. I didn’t take time to video much. We were both too busy helping each other navigate the slots. I did take some. Here you go.